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Sequence drilling to enhance black-grass control

Later drilling is a proven technique to reduce black-grass burdens in-crop.


Seedbed ready for drilling

Later drilling is a proven technique to reduce black-grass burdens in-crop but trying to sow the entire wheat area after 15 October can put a big strain on equipment and operators especially when rain clouds loom large.

Working out which fields to drill first and which to drill last is part of the key to success advises Ben Giles of Bayer. “Any heavily infested land has got to be drilled in the second half of October, so look how much land falls into this category and work back from there.”

“In a perfect world, all land with a high black-grass risk would get drilled and the pre-em programme applied in the second half of October before the onset of heavy autumn rain makes field work impossible. But that is not feasible on every farm so there will be compromises with some wheat having to be sown earlier on.”

Crops need to go in after the main peak of black-grass germination. This date varies year-to-year and may be influenced by the dormancy of the seed shed in the previous crop. Dormancy is said to be higher this year after a cool, wet period earlier in the summer according to the testing conducted by ADAS. Any deliberate delay in drilling is a calculated risk but can tip things a little in your favour.


Ben Giles, Commercial Technical Manager – Bayer

“Whenever you drill, make sure you’re able to come back with the pre-em as soon as possible,” Mr Giles insists. “Liberator (flufenacet + diflufenican) is much more effective at the true pre-em timing compared to delaying until early post-emergence.”

Ben Stroud is one farmer who is putting this into practice. Mr Stroud has 250 acres of winter cereals on a mixed dairy arable unit in the East Midlands. After assuming, responsibility for the arable operation on the family farm Ben has been doing as much as possible to eliminate the black-grass problem.”

To deal with black-grass in winter cereals, Ben has made sure drilling dates offer the best balance of crop establishment and weed control.

“Based on what I heard at a Bayer event earlier this summer, I’ve made a detailed plan about when to drill cereals,” says Ben. “Hybrid barley will go in on 1 October – I’ve spoken to some other farmers and they say you can get good results at this date but this year will be my first year doing it.”

Winter wheat drilling date varies according to how much black-grass is on the land. On clean land it goes in during the first week of October, land with a bit of black-grass is the second week and the real problem land any time after 15 October.

All the winter cereals then receive a pre-em programme. “The go to herbicide timing is the pre-em, Liberator + prosulfocarb are used on all the winter wheat.”

Despite the plan, Ben Stroud still keeps some flexibility in his drilling dates to ensure the best pre-em results:

“The main thing is that you have to have moisture to get results – I’m reluctant to apply in dry conditions and will change drilling dates if it increases the likelihood of the moisture being available.”

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